Success Story: Family Planning Use Increases as Religious Leaders Promote Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies

Reverend Charles Irongo and his wife Edith are happy to tell couples in their congregation how they used contraception to space their four children. The reverend, an Archdeacon at the Kyando Anglican Church of Uganda in southeastern Uganda, sees a clear connection between the church’s role in spiritual matters and health issues, like healthy timing and spacing of children. The church operates a health center that offers family planning care along with other health services. “The church provides family planning because we think about spiritual health and the health of the body,” Reverend Irongo explains. “They both are important to take care of the whole person.”

The Kyando health facility is in the rural diocese of Busoga and is one of four church-run health facilities that experienced an increase in family planning client visits after faith leaders at the affiliated churches were trained in family planning promotion. The Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau (UPMB) trained the faith leaders as part of a Women in Uganda suffer a high maternal mortality rate of 343 deaths per 100,000 live births, one of the highest rates in the world. Timing and spacing pregnancies for when they are healthiest for the mothers is one of the most important ways to protect maternal health.